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Eyes on the Road: Georgia targets Welcome Centers for renovation
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The state is planning to renovate Georgia’s Welcome Centers, including one south of Lavonia off Interstate 85 in Northeast Georgia.

Revenues collected from a state program that offers businesses advertising along highway interchanges will pay for the work, officials have said.

“We are extremely excited about the work and the ultimate positive image of Georgia that will be reflected in the completed projects,” said Sam Wellborn, who heads the State Transportation Board’s Gateways Committee.

The committee voted to recommend the initiative, which got the OK earlier this month from the full Transportation Board.

The Georgia LOGO program offers the advertising opportunity through placement of businesses’ name and logo on signs approaching exits.

The program, operated by Georgia Logos under a five-year contract, generates revenue of about $3.3 million per year.

Current reserves are being set aside to begin the welcome center renovations.

As for the Lavonia center, which opened in May 1996 to coincide with Atlanta holding the Olympics, “we do not have (specific) plans yet for the renovations,” said Teri Pope, the Georgia Department of Transportation’s district spokeswoman.

The 10,200-square-foot center, which sits on 56 acres, receives up to 1 million visitors per year, with most of them Atlanta-bound or continuing along I-85 or Interstate 75, said Stefanie Paupeck, a Georgia Department of Economic Development spokeswoman.

MPO citizens group to meet after traffic study input

The Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Citizens Advisory Committee canceled its quarterly meeting last week because of delays in forming the focus group for Gainesville’s Transportation Master Plan.

The committee now is set to meet at 4 p.m. July 25 at the Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville.

“There will be more material generated from the Transportation Focus Group and the community meetings to discuss” at that meeting, said David Fee, the MPO’s transportation planner in a memo to committee members.

The MPO serves as the lead transportation planning agency for Hall County.

The citizens committee is a panel of area residents discussing transportation issues. The MPO also has the Technical Coordinating Committee, a group of city officials and engineers, and the decision-making Policy Committee, which comprises top elected officials in Hall and a Department of Transportation representative.

The city finally was able to form a 10-member focus group, which held its first meeting April 18. Its next meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Fair Street Neighborhood Center, 715 Fair St., Gainesville.

The city has scheduled community open-house forums for May 8, June 27 and Aug. 1 at the Gainesville Civic Center, 830 Green St.

The master plan study is set for completion in August.

Jeff Gill covers transportation issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with him: